Dec 31, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Jarrett Stidham (4) attempts a pass in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos, Jarrett Stidham visit old friends in Vegas

The Las Vegas Raiders can extend their winning streak against the visiting Denver Broncos to eight games when they meet on Sunday afternoon.

The Broncos (8-8) last defeated the Raiders (7-9) in the regular-season finale on Dec. 29, 2019.

Las Vegas beat Denver 17-16 in the season opener on Sept. 10. Since then, major changes have altered each team. Among those impacted by the in-season overhaul were both starting quarterbacks in Week 1.

Jimmy Garoppolo took the field for the Raiders in the season opener, but injuries and ineffectiveness opened the door for rookie Aidan O’Connell to get a shot when head coach Josh McDaniels was fired. The Raiders have gone 4-4 over the past eight games.

Russell Wilson started the first 15 games for Denver, but the Broncos decided to bench Wilson for Jarrett Stidham in a contract-related squabble similar to the drama that unfolded involving Derek Carr at the end of last season. At that time, Stidham was with the Raiders and was pushed into a starting role for the final two games of the regular season.

“I have a certain job to do, certain thing to do on each and every play. Ultimately we’ve got to go out and win. So that’s what I’m focused on doing and it’s my job to help those other 10 guys on offense, move the ball and score points,” Stidham said.

Stidham completed 20 of 32 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown in a 16-9 win against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers last Sunday, though the Broncos were officially eliminated from playoff contention.

“These are important snaps and games for him,” Broncos coach Sean Payton said. “That’s the case with every player, right? We’re constantly evaluating how they play, and then it would definitely carry over to how we feel about next year relative to their role.”

Payton said the Broncos wouldn’t change their plans for Week 18 based on being eliminated from the playoffs. He’s particularly keen to remind players of the losing streak against the Raiders.

“Do we approach (Sunday’s game) differently? Absolutely not,” Payton said. “We do everything in our power to win this game. It’s that important. From who is playing quarterback to who is starting at the offensive line to who is starting on defense. It’s that simple.”

For the Raiders, not only is the season finale an ongoing audition for O’Connell, but also for interim coach Antonio Pierce, who took over after McDaniels was fired on Nov. 1.

Las Vegas won its first two games under Pierce, but has gone 2-4 since, most recently losing to the Indianapolis Colts 23-20 last Sunday.

“You can’t point fingers at players,” Pierce said. “Obviously we’ve got to do a better job as coaches. It’s a focus thing: false starts, offside, that’s the Raiders beating themselves. That’s something that for seven games, we hadn’t done. But it came up (against the Colts) and it bit us.”

Pierce said the key is staying patient and ignoring the outside opinions.

“Stay true to yourself, don’t change because of people’s opinion of you,” he said. “Go with your gut.”

O’Connell said it’s important that the Raiders focus on the task at hand and not what happened last week or what’s to come in the offseason.

“You can’t rely on momentum from week to week,” he said. “You can’t look ahead, and you can’t look back. Every play, every series, and every game has enough of its own and you’ve got to lock in.”

Las Vegas running back Josh Jacobs, the leading rusher in the NFL last season with 1,653 yards in 17 games, will be a game-time decision because of a quad injury, Pierce said. He has been limited to 805 rushing yards through 13 games this season.

Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby (knee) was limited Wednesday. A former teammate of Stidham, Crosby has a sack in eight consecutive games against the Broncos.

“I can’t speak highly enough of this guy,” Stidham said. “Being with him every day for a year, seeing how he works. The most impressive thing is I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a player play that hard for that long every single time he’s out on the field. He’s going to bring it; we’re going to have to be ready.”

Broncos right tackle Mike McGlinchey (ribs) was limited and wide receiver Cortland Sutton remained in concussion protocol Wednesday.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew (10) looks to pass the ball while Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby (98) defends  in the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Colts stay alive, eliminate Raiders from playoff contention

Gardner Minshew threw for 224 yards and a touchdown while Jonathan Taylor ran for 96 yards and another score Sunday as the Indianapolis Colts kept their hopes for an AFC South title alive with a 23-20 win over the visiting Las Vegas Raiders.

Matt Gay added second-half field goals of 38, 33 and 45 yards as the Colts (9-7) remained in a three-way tie with Jacksonville and Houston. They’ll have to beat the Texans at home next week in their regular-season finale and hope the Jaguars lose at Tennessee to claim a division crown.

Minshew completed 15 of 23 passes for Indianapolis, which can do no worse than clinch a wild-card spot by winning next week.

Aidan O’Connell hit on 30 of 47 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns for Las Vegas (7-9), which was eliminated from playoff consideration. Davante Adams caught 13 passes for 126 yards and two scores, including a 1-yard touchdown with 43 seconds remaining that pulled the Raiders within three points.

However, an onside kick by Daniel Carlson was recovered by the Colts’ Rodney Thomas and Minshew was able to take a knee to kill the clock.

Indianapolis won despite being outgained 370-349.

Indianapolis needed less than three minutes on its first possession to find the end zone. Minshew’s 50-yard pass to Josh Downs set up Taylor’s 5-yard touchdown run at the 12:11 mark.

Las Vegas answered on its first possession with a 40-yard field goal by Carlson, capping a 54-yard drive that lasted more than six minutes. Then the game settled into a field position battle that trended the Raiders’ way but didn’t change the scoreboard.

Neither team scored again until a sudden strike by the Colts with 3:53 left in the half. Minshew connected with Alec Pierce down the right side for a 58-yard score, Pierce outrunning the final defender to the pylon for a 14-3 advantage at the break.

–Field Level Media

Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (8) walks off the field after the Raiders were defeated by the Minnesota Vikings 3-0 at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Raiders RB Josh Jacobs out vs. Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs will not play Monday at Kansas City, NFL Network reported.

He was questionable with a quad injury and an illness and did not participate in Saturday’s practice.

Second-year back Zamir White likely will start for the visiting Raiders (6-8) against the Chiefs (9-5).

Jacobs has 1,101 yards from scrimmage (805 rushing, 296 receiving) and six touchdowns in 13 starts this season.

The 2022 NFL rushing champion has 5,545 rushing yards in 73 games since being drafted in the first round in 2019.

–Field Level Media

Dec 14, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA;  Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (16) makes a catch for a touchdown against the Los Angeles Chargers in the first quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders score team-record 63 points in blowout of Chargers

Aidan O’Connell threw for four touchdowns in the first half Thursday night and the Las Vegas Raiders set a franchise record for most points in a game in a 63-21 evisceration of the Los Angeles Chargers in Las Vegas.

O’Connell completed 20 of 34 passes for 248 yards as Las Vegas improved to 6-8, keeping its slim AFC wild-card hopes alive. Los Angeles fell to 5-9 with its fifth loss in six games, clinching a losing season in a year when some picked it to win the Super Bowl.

It was a complete 180-degree turn for the Raiders, who were shut out on Sunday in a dreary 3-0 loss at home to Minnesota. But they roared out to a 42-0 halftime lead Thursday and never looked back, dropping their AFC West rivals to last place in the division.

Zamir White initiated scoring at the 8:10 mark of the first quarter with a 1-yard run, then O’Connell went to work. He found Tre Tucker for a 30-yard touchdown pass with 4:41 left, then made it 21-0 with a 22-yard connection to Jakobi Meyers. Both came right after Chargers turnovers.

Los Angeles put the game away in the second quarter. O’Connell cashed in a fumbled punt two plays later, hitting Michael Mayer for an 11-yard touchdown pass with 9:15 remaining.

Brandon Bolden ran 26 yards for a score at the 3:50 mark, and O’Connell hooked up with Tucker for a 20-yard touchdown 31 seconds before the half ended.

The Raiders made it 49-0 on their first possession of the second half as Meyers flipped a 3-yard scoring strike to Davante Adams. Their defense got into the act for their last two touchdowns as John Jenkins returned a fumble 44 yards and Jack Jones lugged an interception 16 yards.

Chargers quarterback Easton Stick, who made his first start in place of Justin Herbert (finger), hit on 23 of 32 attempts for 257 yards with three second-half touchdowns, including a 79-yard strike to Joshua Palmer.

–Field Level Media

Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (8) walks off the field after the Raiders were defeated by the Minnesota Vikings 3-0 at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Raiders RB Josh Jacobs to sit out vs. Chargers

Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs is not expected to play in Thursday’s game against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers, NFL Network reported.

Jacobs did not practice throughout the week and was listed as questionable with a quadriceps injury.

A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Jacobs has 805 yards rushing and six touchdowns in 13 games this season. He also has 37 catches for 296 yards for the Raiders (5-8).

Jacobs, 25, was the NFL rushing champion in 2022 after he compiled 1,653 rushing yards on 340 touches (4.9 yards per attempt) and 12 touchdowns. He added 400 receiving yards to lead the league with 2,053 total yards from scrimmage.

In 73 games (72 starts) since the Raiders selected him in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of Alabama, Jacobs has rushed for 5,545 yards and 46 touchdowns.

Running backs Zamir White and Ameer Abdullah likely will see an uptick in snaps against the Chargers (5-8) on Thursday.

–Field Level Media

Aug 13, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) and quarterback Aidan O'Connell (4) watch from the sidelines against the San Francisco 49ers in the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders undecided on starting QB vs. Chargers

Las Vegas Raiders interim head coach Antonio Pierce has yet to name his starting quarterback for Thursday’s game against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers.

“We’re still going through that process,” Pierce said Wednesday. “Got a couple more hours. See how it’s going.”

Rookie Aidan O’Connell has struggled since assuming the starting role for the Raiders (5-8), who saw their losing skid extend to three games following a lackluster 3-0 setback to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. O’Connell threw for just 171 yards and an interception in that loss.

“I never said Aidan wasn’t the starter, let’s say that first and foremost,” Pierce said. “We’re still evaluating it. If there’s a chance to get better, a chance to improve, a chance to put us in position to win, we gotta get all the factors that go into it.”

O’Connell, 25, has completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 1,365 yards with four touchdowns and seven interceptions in seven games this season. He was selected by Las Vegas in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Jimmy Garoppolo, 32, was benched after Josh McDaniels was fired as the team’s head coach on Nov. 1. Garoppolo had completed 65.5 percent of his throws for 1,205 yards with seven touchdowns and nine picks in six games this season.

Brian Hoyer, 38, has completed 23 of 42 passes for 231 yards with two interceptions in three games this season.

–Field Level Media

Dec 10, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Easton Stick (2) throws against the Denver Broncos during the second half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers turn to QB Easton Stick to face slumping Raiders

Easton Stick has an eye-popping record as a starting quarterback but he is an unproven commodity as a professional.

But with Justin Herbert’s season over due to a fractured right index finger, Stick moves into the spotlight and makes his first NFL start when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night.

Stick is in his fifth season with the Chargers (5-8) but had just one career pass attempt prior to replacing Herbert in the second quarter of Sunday’s 24-7 home loss to the Denver Broncos. The 28-year-old completed 13 of 24 passes for 179 yards as Los Angeles lost for the fourth time in five games.

Now the player who went 49-3 at FCS power North Dakota State from 2015-18 will become the Chargers’ main man after Herbert underwent surgery Tuesday to end his streak of 62 consecutive regular-season starts. Stick also learned behind Philip Rivers during his Chargers’ career.

“I’ve watched Justin obviously, Philip. That’s the standard,” Stick said Tuesday of expectations. “The quarterback play has been really good here. Just trying to do my best.”

Third-year Los Angeles coach Brandon Staley has observed the progression and said Stick, a fifth-round pick in 2019, will be ready to perform against Las Vegas (5-8).

“I think that he has really improved mechanically,” Staley said. “Then, he’s really sharp. He studies, he’s a gym rat and he gives you that dimension with his legs.”

The Chargers signed rookie Max Duggan to the active roster Tuesday to be Stick’s backup. Duggan was the star quarterback for TCU last season.

The Raiders also have a quarterback trying to prove himself in rookie Aidan O’Connell.

The fourth-round pick out of Purdue won’t be reminiscing about Sunday’s 3-0 home loss to the Minnesota Vikings. He completed 21 of 32 passes for 171 yards and an interception as the Raiders totaled 202 yards and eight first downs in their third straight setback.

Las Vegas has averaged just 11.5 points over its last four games. Overall, the Raiders are tied for 28th in scoring offense (15.5 points per game) and 29th in total offense (277.7).

In O’Connell’s seven appearances (six starts), he’s passed for just four touchdowns while being intercepted seven times.

“I still have full confidence in myself to do this,” O’Connell said. “I’m learning every week what it takes. I’m working extremely hard to put a good product on the field. I’m not doing it right now, so I gotta do better.”

Raiders coach Antonio Pierce said he will consider returning to veteran Jimmy Garoppolo, who started six games earlier this season and also has thrown more interceptions (nine) than touchdowns (seven).

“We’ll just go through the process,” Pierce said. “Not going to rush to make any decision. We will not do anything emotional based off what I read here, what anybody’s telling me. I’ll go off my gut.”

Whoever plays quarterback for Las Vegas will be wary of Chargers pass rusher Khalil Mack, who leads the NFL with 15 sacks. That also matches his career high, set with the Raiders in 2015.

In Los Angeles’ 24-17 home win over Las Vegas in Week 4 — also O’Connell’s first career start — Mack recorded six sacks, one shy of the NFL single-game record.

Healthwise, Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (quadriceps) and defensive end Maxx Crosby (knee) both missed Tuesday’s practice.

Jacobs ranks sixth in the NFL with 805 rushing yards while Crosby is tied for third in the NFL with 13.5 sacks. He had two sacks in the solid defensive performance against Minnesota to become the fifth player in Raiders’ history with at least 50 sacks.

“We held them to three points,” said Crosby, who has 51 sacks in 79 career games. “We didn’t play perfect, but we did enough to win the game. We just fell short.”

Chargers star receiver Keenan Allen (heel) missed Tuesday’s walkthrough. He leads the NFL with 108 receptions and has 1,243 yards and seven touchdowns.

Cornerback Deane Leonard (ankle/heel) also hasn’t practiced this week for Los Angeles.

–Field Level Media

Dec 10, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) reacts after missing a field goal attempt against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Late field goal lets Vikings beat Raiders 3-0

Greg Joseph made a 36-yard field goal with 1:57 remaining to lift the Minnesota Vikings to a 3-0 win over the host Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday afternoon.

Joseph’s kick proved to be enough for Minnesota (7-6). The Vikings’ defense did the rest, limiting the Raiders to 202 total yards and stuffing 11 of 14 third-down opportunities.

Aidan O’Connell completed 21 of 32 passes for 171 yards and an interception for Las Vegas (5-8). Davante Adams caught seven passes for 53 yards.

Vikings linebacker Ivan Pace Jr. intercepted O’Connell with 1:52 remaining to seal the win. Pace finished with 13 tackles and one sack to go along with his first career pick.

Vikings backup quarterback Nick Mullens took over in the fourth quarter and led the drive that created the game’s only points. Mullens completed 9 of 13 passes for 83 yards.

Mullens replaced starter Joshua Dobbs, who was benched after completing 10 of 23 passes for 63 yards. He also rushed five times for 21 yards.

The game was riddled with injuries to starters for both teams.

Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson sustained a chest injury in the first half and did not return. Jefferson was taken to a hospital in the second half for precautionary reasons.

The three-time Pro Bowl wideout was injured while making a 15-yard catch. He leaped and raised both of his arms to grab a high pass from Dobbs, and while his ribs were exposed he absorbed a hard hit from Raiders safety Marcus Epps.

Jefferson finished the game with two catches for 27 yards. It was his first game back after he missed the previous seven games because of a hamstring injury.

Meanwhile, Vikings running back Alexander Mattison departed with an ankle injury in the second half. He finished with 10 carries for 66 yards.

Raiders running back Josh Jacobs limped off the field with a right knee injury during the fourth quarter. The fifth-year veteran finished with 13 carries for 34 yards to go along with two receptions for 16 yards.

Vikings right tackle Brian O’Neill also sustained an ankle injury and did not return.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Jefferson in line to return as Vikings visit Raiders

The Minnesota Vikings welcome back their best offensive player when they visit the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday afternoon.

All-Pro wide receiver Justin Jefferson was a full participant in practice all three days this week and likely will return for Minnesota (6-6). Jefferson missed the past seven games because of a hamstring injury that he sustained Oct. 8 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The 24-year-old was off to a terrific start to the season before it was interrupted by injury. He hauled in 36 catches for 571 yards and three touchdowns and had at least 149 receiving yards in three of those five games.

Jefferson will play with quarterback Joshua Dobbs for the first time on Sunday. Veteran signal-caller Kirk Cousins went down with a ruptured Achilles tendon while Jefferson was sidelined, and the team brought in Dobbs from the Arizona Cardinals.

The Vikings, who are coming off a bye, have lost two games in a row by a combined margin of three points.

Dobbs maintained the starting job coming out of the bye despite recent struggles. He is eager to team up with his star wideout.

“J.J. being out there, he’s efficient and a dynamic playmaker, so that changes (the offense) having him in the lineup,” Dobbs said. “But for me, I still go through my same process and trust the plans and trust the game plan knowing that opportunities are there for him to get the ball, and he’ll go out and make a play.

“It’s great to have J.J. back, and we’re getting up to speed as quickly as possible so that we can hit the ground running.”

Like the Vikings, Las Vegas (5-7) also is coming off back-to-back losses. The team’s schedule has been unforgiving as of late, with its losses coming on the road against the Miami Dolphins and at home against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Interim coach Antonio Pierce is 2-2 since taking over for Josh McDaniels, who was fired on Oct. 31.

“I feel like we’re leaving plays on the field,” Pierce said. “We do have plays on the field. We got guys running down the field. We got some lanes to hit in the running game. Defensively, we got some opportunities to get the quarterback on the ground or to make a play on the ball. Or on the special teams, to take one to the house.”

Raiders quarterback Aidan O’Connell is set to make the sixth start of his rookie campaign. The Purdue product has posted a 76.4 passer rating while completing 63.5 percent of his passes for 1,194 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions.

As Dobbs has a top wideout in Jefferson, O’Connell has one in Davante Adams. The 30-year-old Adams leads the team with 69 catches for 814 yards and four touchdowns on the season, and he has 13 touchdowns in 15 career games against Minnesota.

Both teams also feature elite pass rushers.

Danielle Hunter leads the Vikings with 13 1/2 sacks, which ranks third in the league entering Week 14. Maxx Crosby is tops on the Raiders with 11 1/2 sacks, and he is looking to bring down an opposing quarterback for his third game in a row.

Crosby (knee) did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, but returned in a limited form Friday. Crosby along with defensive back Brandon Facyson (shin) and inside linebacker Kana’i Mauga (knee) are questionable for Sunday’s game.

Guard Ed Ingram (hip) and defensive back Theo Jackson (illness) are questionable for the Vikings.

Las Vegas is 4-2 at home this season. Minnesota boasts the same 4-2 record on the road.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) carries the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders in the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs continue dominance over Raiders

Patrick Mahomes passed for 298 yards and two touchdowns and Isiah Pacheco ran for a pair of scores as the visiting Kansas City Chiefs topped the Las Vegas Raiders 31-17 on Sunday.

Trailing 14-0 in the second quarter on the heels of Monday night’s loss to Philadelphia, Kansas City responded with 21 straight points to regain the advantage.

Daniel Carlson kicked a 34-yard field goal with 2:09 left in the third quarter to pull the Raiders to within 21-17, but the Chiefs answered with a 39-yard scoring pass from Mahomes to Rashee Rice on their next possession.

Kansas City (8-3) covered at least 71 yards on each of its touchdown drives while sending Las Vegas (5-7) to its second straight defeat.

The Chiefs improved to 10-1 against the Raiders since 2018, Mahomes’ first full season. Kansas City has scored 28 or more points in each of those meetings, an NFL record for the most successive games scoring at least 28 points against one foe.

Las Vegas appeared primed to reverse that trend from the outset. The Raiders covered 75 yards in nine plays and 5:28 on the game’s opening drive, punctuating the possession with an 18-yard pass from Aidan O’Connell to Jakobi Meyers.

Las Vegas forced a Kansas City punt on the ensuing possession and moved 69 yards after getting the ball back, but the drive ended with Carlson missing a field goal from 30 yards. The Raiders made it 14-0 on their next drive, however, as Josh Jacobs burst around the left end for a 63-yard touchdown run.

Pacheco capped a 12-play, 71-yard drive with a 1-yard scoring run on the next possession, starting the Chiefs on a run of three touchdowns on as many drives.

Justin Watson caught a 3-yard touchdown in the final minute of the half for a 14-14 score, and Pacheco added his second touchdown on the opening drive of the second half.

Mahomes shined throughout. After starting the game 4-for-5 for 12 yards, he ended with a flourish. Mahomes finished 27-for-34 through the air, finding Rice eight times for 107 yards and a score while connecting with Travis Kelce for six catches and 91 yards.

Pacheco led the ground game with 55 yards on 15 carries.

O’Connell was 23-for-33 for 248 yards and a touchdown, and Jacobs rushed 20 times for 110 yards and a score. Meyers (six catches, 79 yards, one touchdown) and Davante Adams (five catches, 73 yards) were the Raiders’ top receivers.

–Field Level Media